From Hour of Penance to Devangelic and beyond, Italy is one of those countries that’s just ridiculously good at brutal death metal. Perhaps it has something to do with having the Vatican skulking around in their collective backyard, but whatever the case, the country shaped like a boot continues to kill it year in and year out.
But for every standout act like the aforementioned Hour of Penance, there are many lesser-known bands out there that are also doing excellent work. Case in point, Rome’s oddly-named Whiskey & Funeral dropped Jesus is Guilty back in September of 2018 and it’s a tactical nuke of an album that more metalheads should be talking about. The band has been around since 2005, but they’ve been flying under the radar and releasing their output independently or on smaller labels prior to signing on the dotted line with the venerable Tribulacion Productions (who co-released the album with the goddamn mighty Sevared Records) for the release of Jesus is Guilty.
Clocking in just shy of thirty-four minutes, the album goes directly for the throat and doesn’t let up for its duration, unleashing a salvo of musical violence that puts many of Whiskey & Funeral’s brutal death metal brethren to shame in both intensity and ingenuity. The quartet go out of their way to make sure each track possesses its own distinctive qualities and as a result said tracks are unholy feasts of exquisitely heavy and headbang-inducing riffage. Early Deicide seems to be the primary influence here, but rest assured that Whiskey & Funeral have put together an album that’s about a thousand times gnarlier than anything Glen Benton and his cohorts have been able to muster in the past decade.
Jesus is Guilty was recorded, mixed and mastered by none other than Hour of Penance’s Marco Mastrobuono, who’s worked behind the boards for a who’s who of the Italian scene, from Fleshgod Apocalypse to Dr. Gore. The album’s production scheme emphasizes Whiskey & Funeral’s cruel precision, but still leaves plenty of grit and grime in the mix, lending it a distinctly old school flavor that stands out amongst the flood of overly sterile-sounding brutal death metal currently plaguing the scene. Mastrobuono does an excellent job here of highlighting the band’s myriad strengths and keeping the sound organic.
Indeed, Whiskey & Funeral are a band to keep an eye on and Jesus is Guilty is a ridiculously strong album that probably would’ve battered and bulldozed its way onto my 2018 year end list had I caught wind of it sooner. If you’re looking for a an excellently executed brutal death metal album that’s keeps things traditional yet still manages to sound fresh and inventive, look no further.